Canning Classes, DVD Review, Garden Planning

I often start to get the canning bug when peaches and apples start to show up in the neighborhood fruit stands. However, it doesn’t hurt to think about canning in the SPRING when you can plan your gardens to best take advantage of growing your own foods that you want to harvest and use for canning later in the season. So let’s talk a little about canning today and how you can get some great information and instructions if you are new to this topic :)

CANNING/PRESERVATION CLASSES

If you are local to Utah there is a series of classes being put on by the Utah State University Extension. It’s being held in South Ogden over the next few weeks. I’m going to be attending as many of the sessions as I can and will share what I learn here on the blog. I’m so excited! Click the flyer below for more details or click here for the full schedule.
master preservation course

If you are not local, check with your own state extension offices to look for classes in your area.

CANNING DVD BY KENDRA LYNNE

If you don’t want to leave the comfort of your home to learn about canning, you’ve got to check out this DVD created by Kendra Lynne called At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond. I have had a little experience with canning myself and I thought this DVD was perfect for a brand new beginner but also includes great tips, reminders, and new recipes for more veteran canners. The DVD is currently ON SALE for $5 off if you enter coupon code LEARN2CAN

canning-dvd-pin

Highlights:

  • Introduction to canning
  • Basics on what tools you need
  • Tips and tricks throughout the video
  • Instructions for using traditional or tattler reusable lids
  • Full video instructions for canning a wide variety of items
  • Tutorials for both water bath and pressure canners
  • Section on canning outdoors on a propane grill

Tutorials Included:

  • Apple jelly / applesauce
  • Blueberry pie filling
  • Pinto beans, chicken, and beef
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Grape juice (this one is surprising and amazing!)
  • Green beans (awesome from your garden)
  • Meals in a jar (3 options)

It’s so nice to see step by step exactly what to do, and I love getting the tried and true recipes for some of these items I’ve never been brave enough to try canning before. I definitely got my brain going with ideas of things to can this year and I’m so excited!

Click here to learn more and order your copy today!

GARDEN PLAN

Have you already made your garden plan for this year? I like to think about what my favorite things to can are and plan my garden accordingly. I LOVE to can salsa so I try to grow way more peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc. than my family could possibly eat in one season. I also planted fruit trees so we can can peaches and homemade applesauce (after watching Kenda’s DVD I’m totally going to start making apple and pear jelly too! You really are able to can so many things, you are only limited by your garden space. So plan ahead, think about what you want to can this fall, and plant LOTS of it!

Happy gardening and canning!


Product Review: Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

This year I did my canning almost exclusively with Tattler Reusable Canning Lids. They have recently put out some new instructions that I wanted to try, and I have used them enough times now that I felt like I could give an accurate review on them. So here are some of my experiences this year:

How they work
The Tattler lids come with a plastic “lid” and a rubber gasket. You place the gasket on the jar and then put the lid on top. Finally, you secure it with a regular jar ring. The gasket acts in a similar manner to a regular canning lid. When the jar is finished processing it will suck the lid down and make an indentation in the gasket just like it does to a canning lid. Here is a picture to compare the two:

Detailed instructions
If you have used these lids before, you may want to take note of these new instructions. In particular steps #5 and #7 have changed. There were some sealing issues before as people were screwing the lids on too tight.

  1. Inspect top of jar for cracks and nicks.
  2. Wash, rinse and sterilize jars. Scald lids and rubber rings.
    Leave in water until ready to use.
  3. Fill jars as indicated per canning instructions for that food
    type.
  4. Wipe top of jar after filling. Place lid and rubber ring
    combination on jar.
  5. Screw band on jar loosely. Center lid on jar and hold in place
    with finger while tightening the metal screw band finger-tip tight.
    DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN. Product must be allowed to vent during
    processing.
  6. Process as per instructions for various foods.
  7. TIGHTEN METAL BAND FIRMLY IMMEDIATELY UPON REMOVAL FROM CANNER.
  8. When jars have cooled, remove metal band and lift gently on the
    lid to determine if any failure has occurred. Sealed jars may be
    stored without metal bands if desired.
  9. When removing lid, gently insert dull side of table knife (or
    similar object) between rubber and lid or jar to release the seal –
    DO NOT USE SHARP KNIFE.
  10. Wash plastic lids and rubber rings, rinse, dry and store for
    future use. Do not save any rubber ring which is cut or deformed.

My Experiences
I have quite a few jars that I got from my grandma that had very old rings on them. I used a few of these older rings as I didn’t have quite enough of the newer ones to use. I had a hard time getting them to screw on properly and then I actually had three jars that had their seals fail. In the past I haven’t always taken the rings off to store my canned goods even though it’s usually recommended. After reading the new instructions I decided to do it this time and I was glad I did. The jars looked like they were ok but as I took off the rings the lids slid off. They were not sealed at all! Look at the difference between an old and a new lid. You can’t tell in the picture but the old lid is slightly warped too.

Recommendations
If you are going to use Tattler lids, you definitely want to buy some newer rings if you don’t have any on hand. I bought a few packages of rings/lids and just used the regular lids for a couple of batches and then had the rings to use afterwards. Depending on how many batches at a time you do, you may need quite a few good rings. I manage to do only 3-4 in a day so I only need 28 rings for now. If I get a second canner and get all of my children in school I may need to up that some day :)

Buying the Tattler lids is more expensive than regular lids initially. So it can be helpful to buy a few boxes each year and gradually build up over time. That’s what I’m doing. I can’t wait until I can move to EXCLUSIVELY using reusables. I would definitely recommend keeping a FEW regular lids on hand though as it’s nice to stick them on with a ring when you keep a bottle in the fridge that you are eating out of. Also, if you plan to do any gift giving, do a batch with regular lids. Don’t want to give away your Tattlers!

Disclaimer
If you are curious about the approved use of these lids, here is the official statement that most local extension offices are providing:

Elizabeth Andress, Extension Food Safety Specialist – Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and National Center for Home Food Preservation shares the following response:

“The Tattler lids have been around a long time, but I have never used them or known of them being used in any reported research (ie, publicly available research). If people want to use them, they just need to go by the guidance provided by the company/manufacturer. I have no information that would tell me anything about seal failures or sealing rates, number of re-uses and performance throughout re-uses. I do not know what kind of vacuum levels are achieved, which would indicate how much air/oxygen gets vented out of the jar during processing. The lid choice itself would not impact the safety of the canning heat process if used on the correct shape and size of canning jar as the process specifies, and all other canning recommendations for jar filling, canner use, food preparation style, etc., are followed. So if people want to try them, they just need to be sure they can tell how to be sure they have a vacuum seal on their jar after processing and throughout storage.

We Heart Pinterest Day 4: Canning


Since we LOVE Food Storage, and LOVE Pinterest (see post here), each day until February 14th, we’ll be showing you some of our favorite Pinterest boards and neat things we have found and have pinned there! It’s so great to see and share what others have done.

Today we are highlighting our Canning board. This board is a great place to find canning recipes and tips. Canning is one of those things it’s hard to remember all the instructions and directions, so having a place you can go back to reference is very helpful!

To see the whole board, click here.


  • PIN 1: This is something we saved because we HAVEN’T tried it yet, and really want to try it. Curious to see what that food is? Go to the pin!
  • PIN 2: These are jar “containers” that we are really curious about, and want to test out ourselves! Seems like your jars would stay protected in here.
  • PIN 3: One of Jodi’s first things she canned. Since then she has ventured into much more foods.
  • PIN 4: The book Jodi has named the Canning Bible. She doesn’t can anything without referring to it.

Make sure you check out the rest of the items on the Canning board. We’ll keep adding to that board as we find great stuff, and we’ll see you tomorrow to highlight another one of our boards!

Don’t forget you can Follow us on Pinterest so you don’t miss any of the great stuff we will be pinning in the future.

How-To Video: Canning Applesauce

Halloween is almost upon us, thus canning season is about to move over to make room for BAKING season :) I was scrambling to finish up a batch of applesauce before I left on a vacation last week. I wanted to do a little video tutorial to add to the step-by-step photo instructions I put together a few years ago. Hopefully it is helpful for you if you are new to canning!

How to Can Applesauce

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

In the video I mentioned using reusable canning lids. I gave a more in depth review of the lids a few weeks ago in my post about canning peaches. They are awesome and I can’t wait to get more. Yay!

How to Can Peaches – Video Tutorial


2 bushels of peaches, approximately 56 jars of peaches (8 batches)

How to Can Peaches

Last year I did a little photo/text tutorial on canning peaches. I know some people prefer to see tutorials in video format so this year when my husband and I were canning two bushels of peaches we decided to document the process on tape for you all. Enjoy!

Tattler Reusable Canning Lids

As mentioned in the video, I was experimenting with reusable canning lids for the first time. I removed the lid off of one jar and reused it in a later batch and it sealed just fine! Overall I was very happy with the results. I think it will take a little getting used to it is a little bit different than traditional lids in how tight you have to put the lids on … but definitely worth figuring out!

What I LOVE
If you are a canner, you may have noticed that the disposable lids have gotten quite a bit more expensive lately (12 lids for around $4 or $0.33 per lid). I’ve also had a hard time finding them in stores (they only seem to have wide-mouth lids in stock ever). To buy 3-dozen Tattler lids with the gaskets it was $26.40 including shipping ($0.73 per lid). We visited with the people at the Tattler booth at the Self Reliance Expo over the weekend and they told me to expect at least 15 uses with the gaskets before I would need to replace them. The lids are reusable forever and the gaskets can be replaced VERY inexpensively.

With the amount of canning I do each year, this is going to save me a LOT of money (and a lot of trash). My only problem now is I need to get myself a lot more of the lids. I’ve also noticed it’s nice to keep a few of the disposable ones on hand so that when I have open bottles in the fridge I can stick those on and immediately reuse the Tattler lids.

Comparing a used gasket to an unused gasket
This picture shows you what happens to the gasket after it has performed a proper seal (top one is used). It is indented and you can easily tell it apart from an unused gasket. Each time you use a gasket you should invert it so it wears evenly on both sides.

Comparing a gasket to a traditional lid
You can see that the indentations in the gasket look very similar to the indentations in a traditional metal lid. Getting familiar with how they look will help you easily recognize which way to place your gasket on your next batch.

PLEASE NOTE:
If you are curious about the approved use of these lids, here is the official statement that most local extension offices are providing:

Elizabeth Andress, Extension Food Safety Specialist – Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and National Center for Home Food Preservation shares the following response:

“The Tattler lids have been around a long time, but I have never used them or known of them being used in any reported research (ie, publicly available research). If people want to use them, they just need to go by the guidance provided by the company/manufacturer. I have no information that would tell me anything about seal failures or sealing rates, number of re-uses and performance throughout re-uses. I do not know what kind of vacuum levels are achieved, which would indicate how much air/oxygen gets vented out of the jar during processing. The lid choice itself would not impact the safety of the canning heat process if used on the correct shape and size of canning jar as the process specifies, and all other canning recommendations for jar filling, canner use, food preparation style, etc., are followed. So if people want to try them, they just need to be sure they can tell how to be sure they have a vacuum seal on their jar after processing and throughout storage.”

Is It Your Canning Season Yet? Start Planning!

It’s so fun having blog readers all over the country and even the world. We get to hear about what people are doing in their gardens and what fruits are coming in their area, and everyone’s situation is so different. We know a lot of you will have canning season coming up shortly, so start planning now so you can be ready if you see something come on sale!

There was a time where neither of us thought that we had the time, energy, knowledge, or desire to learn how to can. I finally broke down and begged my mom to give me instructions on how to make her strawberry jam when she moved out of state from me for two years and I couldn’t steal from her supply. When I stocked up my own year supply, with strawberries I got on sale for $0.88, and it was all absolutely delicious … I was hooked. I wanted to can more.

While it IS a lot of work, and I always complain while I’m doing it … I love the end result. Home canned foods are so much yummier than store-bought. You can also control how much sugar you put in (ok I admit I don’t home can to make things lower in sugar, but other people do!) There are no weird preservatives that you can’t pronounce. And if you have your own garden, you can get a year supply of fruits and vegetables at very low cost (especially if you already have your jars).

I was curious what other home-canned foods people can’t live without so I asked on our Facebook page (love Facebook for informal polls, lol) and we got a great response. Here are a few of the responses:

I’ve done a few tutorials on different items I’ve canned over the past few years, and I am hoping to add to the collection this summer/fall. If you are just getting started with canning these might help you overcome any fears or worries you may have.

Canning Peaches … Delish!
Learn how to can peaches, Jodi has a little different technique than most books recommend.

How to Make Strawberry Jam
Homemade strawberry jam is such a treat, it is so much yummier than store-bought, which is truly the reason to make it.

How to Can Homemade Applesauce
Applesauce is one of the easiest and most delicious foods to can. Step by step tutorial on how we do it.

How to Pressure Can Ground Beef
Jodi gives a step-by-step overview of her experiences with this process that intimidated her for a LONG time.

How to Pressure Can Chicken
See how easy it is to can your own chicken so that you can have shelf stable chicken ready for recipes, and in case of emergencies.

One thing I’m really excited about trying out this year is reusable canning lids. I heard about them and got so excited because I really hate having to buy the disposable lids every year (totally ups the cost of home canning). And also I kept worrying about a long term emergency situation where I would want to preserve my own foods, but what if lids weren’t available. I can’t wait to find out if these will be a workable solution. They are more expensive than traditional lids but … REUSABLE! I will be using them for my tutorials and letting you all know what I think of them. Now I just need something to can! Hurry up tomatoes!


How to Pressure Can Chicken

Depending on where you are in your food storage journey, you may or may not have considered adding canned meats into your storage plans. When I started to work on my three month supply, I realized there were very few meals in my regular cooking that are purely shelf stable. It seemed boring to just have chili or spaghetti for every meal in my plan, and I wasn’t getting all of the benefits of stocking up on my regular foods. I decided I would count freezer foods in my three month supply planning, and that helped a little bit. But over time, especially as I’ve gotten more comfortable with powerless cooking, I’ve realized that I would really like to have some better shelf stable meal options just in case of a powerless emergency.

Last month I experimented with pressure canning ground beef for the first time … and this month I ventured into the world of pressure canning chicken. It was soooo easy! For a quick review on pressure canners, view our post on pressure canners versus presser cookers. Then come on back and see how easy pressure canning chicken is!

 

How to Pressure Can Chicken: Raw-Pack Method

All the tools you need to get started!

Step 1: Wash all jars, lids, and rings. No need to sterilize them for pressure canning. Keep them at room temperature.

Step 2: Start water boiling to fill the jars with.

Step 3: Cut up frozen chicken into bite-sized pieces. (Let it thaw for just a little bit so it isn’t TOO rock hard)

Step 4: Throw the chicken into jars, fill it all the way to the very top.

Step 5: Fill each jar with hot water leaving 1 inch of open space at the top of the jar. Poke down any chicken that is sticking above the water.

Step 6: Put all the jars into the pressure canner and pour in 3 quarts of boiling water.

Step 7: Place lid on the pressure canner and turn up the heat on your stove. Allow steam to vent out for ten minutes before placing on the pressure regulator.

Step 8: Bring the pressure up to the correct amount for your elevation (mine was 13 pounds pressure). Process for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

Step 9: Remove the pressure canner from the stove and allow pressure to come down naturally. This can take a long time so be prepared to wait. Remove the pressure regulator from the vent pipe, wait 10 more minutes.

Step 10: Remove jars from canner and allow to cool. Then check the seals, label them with the date canned, and ENJOY!

Please note: I followed the directions in my manual and in my Ball Canning Guide. Your manual may be different so make sure you double-check before you do this on your own!


Pressure Canners vs Pressure Cookers (Cooking Mysteries Solved!)

If you are a Facebook friend of ours you may have seen us posting occasionally about using our pressure cookers or canning meat. Inevitably the question gets asked “What’s the difference between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner?”

Don’t worry, two years ago we didn’t know either!!! I’ve answered a few of our most commonly asked questions in this short video that should help take the mystery out of pressure cooking and pressure canning for you.

 
In case you can’t view the video, try clicking here or read the summary below. (I go into more detail in the info below as well)

What is a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is a tightly sealed pot that uses steam under pressure to cook foods very quickly. It is extremely useful if you are trying to rotate through your long term food storage as it makes cooking beans, rice, and wheat very quick and easy. Once you start using it you will find that many of your slow-cooker meals and regular meals can be made in the pressure cooker and turn out even more delicious and cook so fast! Meat is very tender when pressure cooked, and vegetables can be steamed and retain more nutrients. It’s a fantastic kitchen appliance.

What is a pressure canner?

A pressure canner is used to can low-acid foods such as most vegetables, meats, and beans. Traditional water-bath canning only gets the foods as hot as boiled water, which is not hot enough to properly preserve these types of foods. By pressure canning you can increase the temperature it is processed at high enough to kill bacteria, etc. Learning to use canned meats can open up a whole new world of shelf stable recipes you can make using only your stored foods. And canning them yourself brings the price down dramatically. You will also find the convenience of having cooked meat straight out of a can is great for days you need a “quick dinner”. And home-canned meats are delicious!

Can a pot act as both a pressure cooker AND canner?

This info is from one of our facebook friends: According to USDA, a canner must be able to hold at least 4 quart jars, and have a gauge or weight to allow you to measure 5, 10, and 15 lbs. pressure. The size is important because a bigger canner takes longer to come to pressure and cool down again, and that time is factored into the processing time they give you. Complete USDA canning times and recipes are available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, at www.uga.edu/nchfp. However, I believe that any pressure CANNER can also be used as a pressure COOKER, it is just a matter of whether or not you want to use such a huge pot to pressure cook something. My Presto Pressure Canner says right on the box “Pressure Cooker / Canner”.

What is the difference between an electric and a traditional pressure cooker?

An electric pressure cooker plugs into the wall, only has two pressure settings, and does not need to be attended to. You simply select high or low pressure, and the amount of time you want to process it for. Once the time is up, you either let the pressure come down naturally or do a quick pressure release. The method you use depends on your recipe. For day to day use an electric pressure cooker is AWESOME. A traditional pressure cooker sits on your stovetop like a regular pot. You must bring it up to pressure and keep it at the right pressure so it is not safe to leave your kitchen while it processes. One benefit of a traditional pressure cooker is that it can be used in a powerless emergency if you have a gas stove.

What Pressure Cooker and Pressure Canner Do We Recommend?

We love the Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker and the Presto Pressure Canners. You can read more about them at our Online Store. We have found some great prices at Amazon.com so definitely check them out if you are going to get one. (sometimes Costco has the electric pressure cooker on sale for cheaper, so if you see it there, grab it!)

Want to see our Pressure Cookers and Canners in action?

Check out the following helpful posts:
How to Pressure Can Ground Beef
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup in the Pressure Cooker
How to Make Baby Food With a Pressure Cooker
Using a Pressure Cooker to Eat a “Food Storage Diet”

AND, next week on the blog we are going to be covering “How to Pressure Can CHICKEN” and “How to Pressure Cook Fabulous Beans”

How to Pressure Can Ground Beef

Since Julie put the “pressure” on for me to teach everyone about canning your own meat at the end of her post last week … here is a little intro to pressure canning for you!


For those of you who have followed our blog and our facebook page for a while, you may know that I tend to procrastinate on trying new things. I had my pressure cooker for almost a year before I got brave enough to try it (see why I love it so much now here, here, and here).

Well I won’t tell you how long I have had my pressure canner (*ahem* Grandma Lori bought it for me for Christmas last year *ahem*) … but I finally got brave enough to try it! Ground beef was on sale for $1.99 a pound for the LEAN kind which is pretty sweet. So I bought 20 pounds and forced myself to give it a shot.

Getting excited for my adventure!

Ok I have water-bath canned quite a few things before (you can see some of them here, here, and here) … but I was surprised that pressure canning was SOOOOOOO stinking easy! I want to cry that I have wasted a year of not being able to enjoy easy, convenient, cheap ground beef straight out of the jar.

Here is a quick picture tutorial for you, but it is so simply you can just follow the directions in your manual and you will be fine! I know it makes it easier to see someone actually do it though, so here ya go:



To get started, I cleaned all of my jars and poured hot hot water into them so that they could warm up while my ground beef was cooking. I read somewhere that this was a good thing to do, but I am not sure if it is entirely necessary. I didn’t want cracked jars though so I figured I’d do it to be safe.


I boiled five pounds of ground beef in my largest pot. I tried to break it up into small pieces while it cooked. This took about 25 minutes to cook completely. Then I drained out the greasy water. I immediately started another five pounds cooking.


While the second batch cooked, I spooned 5 pint jars full of the cooked beef. When the second batch finished I filled 5 more jars. It works out almost perfectly to be one pound of beef per pint. I LOVE that!


Once all the jars were filled with beef, I poured boiling water in them to fill just to the rim line. Then I just stuck on the sterilized lids and rings and put 10 jars in my beautiful new pressure canner. It was very exciting. I love that it can do 10 at a time! (Please excuse the monster box of Triscuits on the stove, I’m not exactly sure why they were there)


Next I followed my manual and poured in the correct amount of water and put on the lid. It was fun watching the pressure build up. I definitely had to keep adjusting my stove temperatures to keep it at the correct pressure level. I think if you had a gas stove this wouldn’t be as problematic. It only took about 5-10 minutes to get up to pressure and then I processed for 75 minutes (90 if you are doing quarts).


It took about 45 minutes before the pressure had subsided all the way and I was able to remove the lid. It is so fun to see my nice little jars all lined up to cool. I never ever use frozen ground beef in my recipes any more. This is just SO quick and easy!

This whole process definitely took a little longer than I expected mainly because of the time it took to release the pressure and cook the beef. So definitely make sure you have 3-4 hours set aside to get this done. You won’t be actively working the whole time, but don’t start it at 10 pm like I did ;)

The next thing I want to try is canned chicken. Can’t wait until it goes on sale!

p.s. Click here to read more about the pressure canner that I use. I love it!


How To Make Strawberry Jam

As you may have seen on our Facebook fan page, strawberries have been on sale for crazy low prices lately, resulting in a lot of us making up some delicious strawberry jam. A few of our readers mentioned being nervous to try making it so I decided to post a step by step guide here so you can see how easy it really is. Some people make strawberry freezer jam but my favorite is the regular cooked jam so that is what I’m posting here!

How to make strawberry jam!

jam1Gather everything you need to get started, including some helpers. jam2Chop off the tops of the berries and any gross parts (2 quarts = 1 batch).
 
jam3Chop up the berries. Oh how I love my imitation slap chop. Although it IS falling apart so I might have to splurge for a REAL one soon! jam4Pour the beautiful chopped berries into a large pot and start cooking (if you like chunkier jam you can mash the berries with a potato masher first).
 
jam5Pour in 1/4 c. lemon juice (some recipes don’t call for this). jam6Add the pectin.
 
jam7Add 1/2 tsp. of butter to reduce the foaming. jam8If you like smooth jam like my family, puree it with a Bamix at this step (I love my Bamix too!)
 
jam9While you wait for the strawberries to come to a boil, measure out 7 cups of sugar into a bowl. (Yes SEVEN!) jam10Now take a well-deserved quick break and enjoy an ice cold diet coke. This step is mandatory at my house.
 
jam11Dump the whole bowl of sugar in at once. Bring back to a boil and stir for 1 minute while it boils. jam12Meanwhile, sterilize your jar lids on the stove and try to ignore the fact that my burner looks freakishly purple.
 
jam13Remove the pot from the stove and pour the delicious jam into sterilized jars. One batch makes about 4 small jars. jam14Add the lids and rings and wait for them to pop to know they are sealed. Isn’t this just a beautiful site?



While I didn’t include this part, you should make sure to water bath can your finished jars according to the directions on your pectin package or in your canning guide. This will make sure your jam is properly preserved for long term storage.

Happy jam-making!